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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 30, 2002

30 April 2002
Pro-Moscow Opposition Warns Of Lawsuits Against Amended Tatar Constitution...
Aleksandr Shtanin, Tatarstan State Council deputy and leader of the Equality and Legality [RiZ] movement, which is focused on harmonizing Tatarstan legislation with federal legislation, told Rosbalt on 29 April that, "It is inevitable that there will be new lawsuits concerning the nonconformity of a number of provisions in the Tatarstan Constitution with the federal constitution." RiZ will "try to demand through the courts" that the present State Council be dissolved before the end of its term in late 2004, because it includes representatives of the executive branch of the republican government, such as regional and city administration heads, Shtanin said.

In February, the Russian Constitutional Court heard a suit filed by Marsel Salyamov, a Tatarstan businessman, who demanded that the State Council be dissolved on similar grounds. The court partially upheld the claim, demanding that Tatarstan legislators amend regulations on elections in the republic to prevent government officials from becoming members of parliament. Meanwhile, the current State Council, which was elected in 1999, was permitted to continue its work until the end of its current term.

In previous statements at sessions of the State Council, Shtanin has spoken out against the constitutional provision demanding that presidential candidates speak both Tatar and Russian, as well as against the inclusion in Tatarstan's constitution of the power-sharing treaty signed between Moscow and Kazan in 1994.

Tatarstan's amended constitution is to enter into legal force today, following its publication in the official republican newspapers "Watanim Tatarstan (in Tatar) and "Respublika Tatarstan" (in Russian).

...As State Council Plans To Resume Harmonization Process
Tatarstan's State Council presidium gathered on 29 April to discuss the agenda for its next parliamentary session, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today. Parliamentary speaker Farit Mukhametshin and the other deputies present seemed relaxed, following their intense work on amending the republic's fundamental law. Nonetheless, the State Council plans to harmonize as many as 30 more legal acts with federal legislation.

Tatarstan Delegate Elected To Presidium
Robert Minnulin, deputy chairman of the Tatarstan State Council, and Damir Ishakov, an ideologist for the Tatar national movement, returned to Kazan on 29 April after participating in the 27 April congress of Russia's Eurasia party, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. During the event, Minnulin was reportedly elected to the party presidium, which is headed by Abdulvakhit Niyazov. The party represents Muslims from many regions of Russia.

According to the amended federal law on legislatures in federation subjects, in future, one-half of the seats in the Tatarstan State Council are to be divided among nationwide political parties. Thus, the Eurasia party is to put forward its own candidates as an alternative to those proposed by local branches of Unified Russia, the Union of Rightist Forces, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia.

World Congress To Hold Branch Meeting In U.S.
Indus Tahirov, chief executive of the World Tatar Congress, and Razil Valeev, chairman of the State Council Committee on Culture and Ethnic Issues, are visiting the United States from 29 April�6 May to hold a World Tatar Congress branch meeting there and to meet with U.S. experts on politics and interethnic affairs, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 29 April.

Shaimiev Sends Condolences To Krasnoyarsk
Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev sent condolences on 28 April on behalf of the people of Tatarstan to the Kransnoyarsk Krai administration, expressing his grief upon the death of Governor Aleksandr Lebed, who "was a real combat general [and] an honest, principled, and decent sort of man, who bravely entered Russian politics," Shaimiev said, the presidential press service reported.

The same day, Shaimiev told Russia's RTR television that he was "shocked" by the helicopter crash, adding that "I always had deep respect for [Lebed], though we were never close because our paths never crossed. Lebed was an [outstanding] person."

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Duma Deputies Oppose Prosecutor's Protest
Russian State Duma deputies from Bashkortostan addressed Duma Deputy Chairman Artur Chilingarov recently with a statement to be distributed among their colleagues, Bashinform reported on 29 April. The Bashkortostan deputies expressed their concern regarding Russia's regional policies, saying that "The current Russian president [Vladimir Putin] has chosen the correct course for improving and adjusting federative relations in...the Russian Federation.... But at the same time, there is an evident overestimation in this process, when those who execute the will of the Russian president put too much effort into this and often exceed the limits of their duties, thus violating Russian legislation."

The Bashkortostan deputies also opposed the protest of Russian Deputy Prosecutor-General Aleksandr Zvyagintsev (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 20 March, 15, 19 April 2002), who demanded that the provision regarding treaty-based relations between Moscow and Ufa, as well as the provision about Bashkortostan's willing participation in the Russian Federation on an equal basis, be excluded from the preamble of the Bashkortostan Constitution, which was adopted in late 2000.

The deputies added that Zvyagintsev's protest "denies the clause in the Russian Constitution that confirms treaty-based relations between [Bashkortostan] and the central bodies [and] rejects the directive of President Vladimir Putin who, in his 26 March 2000 letter to the Bashkortostan State Assembly, stated that the power-sharing treaty between the Russian Federation and the Bashkortostan Republic was used as the basis for Bashkortostan's constitution.

Prime Minister Says Machinery Industry Developing
Bashkortostan Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov told "Versti" on 29 April that Bashkortostan's fuel industry makes up 40 percent of the republic's industrial sector, while the machinery and chemical industries make up 16-17 percent each. The production of electricity occupies 10 percent of the republic's industry and foodstuffs make up a further 8 percent. The prime minister also claimed that Bashkortostan boosted production in the machinery industry by 26 percent in 2001, compared to Russia's average growth in this sphere, which was only 8 percent.

Moscow's Bashkir Community Preparing For World Congress
The Bashkir community of Moscow held a conference on 28 April to elect delegates for the second World Bashkir Congress to be held in Ufa in June, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported the next day. Vener Galin of the Computing Mathematics Institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Ramil Akhmetov of the Russian Supreme Court, and Mingali Akhmetov of the Russian Armed Forces Academy were all elected to represent the Russian capital during the congress.

Since 1999, Moscow's Bashkir community has failed to obtain official registration in the city for the Congress of Moscow Bashkirs or the National Cultural Autonomy of Bashkirs. During the 28 April conference, it was decided to unite the two organizations in order to combine efforts to obtain funding for Bashkir culture and education from the Moscow budget.

Donations To World Bashkir Congress Near $200,000
The World Bashkir Congress Fund has collected more than 5.5 million rubles ($177,000) since the beginning of its fundraising campaign on 1 April, Bashkortostan state radio reported on 29 April, citing officials from the congress's Preparations Committee (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 10, 18, 23 April 2002).

Rakhimov Sends Condolences To Krasnoyarsk Krai
Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov sent condolences on 28 April to the residents of Krasnoyarsk Krai and Governor Aleksandr Lebed's relatives in the wake of Lebed's death earlier that day, the presidential press service reported.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi